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How to write a superbissimo thank you note for a mirific, magnanimous gift

The holidays recede, the new year rises, and the gifts you received cry out for thanks. For the givers who deserve something more than a simple “thank you," there are more expressive words of gratitude.

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Sergeant Major Mana Jokkogsung holds up thank you cards from families of some of the 40 babies he has helped to deliver in the past 9 years as part of Bangkok, Thailand's police "midwife unit." He was photographed in January 2009.

Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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The holidays recede, the new year rises, and the gifts you received cry out for thanks. Do the givers deserve something more than a simple “thank you”?

What if they’ve braved a stampede of shoppers or scorched their eyeballs online searching for your ideal gift? Or unearthed the very thing you’ve desired by listening to you, understanding you, researching the choices? Or spent beyond their means or thought of you over the miles?

For such energetic and devoted giving, recipients may want to reach for more expressive words of gratitude – words beyond those of the generic printed card, e-card, numbly texted “tnx,” or such hand-scrawled standbys as “Many thanks”; “Thanks a million”; and “I really loved it.”

Not that these stock expressions are necessarily unwelcome. They at least acknowledge receipt, making them somewhat more gratifying than the silence of ingrates who can’t be bothered, or of gift-haters, busy bees, and the chronically forgetful.

And before I myself forget – here’s an avalanche of thanks to my late mother, who, from the day I could write sentences, taught me how the lavish thank-you note could be its own way of giving, with attendant pleasures; how it could make the givers happy, make them feel they’d done something special; reassure them that it’s as good to give (especially to me) as to receive.

For anyone developing or honing writing skills, even as an adult, the gracious thank-you note is a perfect exercise. And the notes I composed as a child in the post-holiday quiet were in many ways the beginning of a long writing career, an early confrontation with the challenges of rhetoric: clarity, force, grace, embellishment, balance, and so on.

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